Tes Maths ROTW: Interleaving GCSE

Craig Barton
03rd September 2018


Take advantage of the benefits of interleaving with these questions based on Edexcel's GCSE scheme by Billyads_47

What is it?

Last year I wrote Pedagogy Place posts about the benefits of both spacing and interleaving. In essence, if we can try as much as possible to move away from teaching and assessing topics in blocks, and instead expose students to them at different points in time and combine them together, it is likely to be better for students' long-term retention. That is all well and good in theory, but what does that look like in practice, and how on earth do you keep track of all the topics you have covered? That is where this wonderful resource comes to play. With 19 individual sets of questions, and an Excel spreadshseet to track exposure to concepts, you have all you need to tap into the benefits of spacing and interleaving.

The author describes its construction very well indeed:

I went through our scheme of work and wrote down key objectives from Edexcel's GCSE scheme of work. I then wrote a question for most topics, focusing purely on skills. By recording these questions on an excel spreadsheet I was able to track my spacing between topics to (hopefully) maximise the effects on their long-term memory. 

How can it be used?

I think this wonderful resource is perfectly suited to starter activities, ideally in the form of a low-stake quiz. So, you might choose to do something like this: One lesson each week students arrive to find one of the sets of questions on their desks. They try them in silence in a set time. The teacher then projects the answers up and the students mark them themselves. Students then have a few minutes to compare answers with their neighbour to see if they can figure out any answers they do not understand. The teacher then asks if there are any problem areas still remaining, and then models how to solve these. Students can record their scores for their own personal records, and also make a note of any topics or questions that they need extra help on. Doing this regularly ensures students are repeatedly exposed to key topics, start to appreciate the benefits of self-testing, and become better informed over their areas of strength and weakness. What could be better?

Thanks so much for sharing!

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